Atlanta developers have launched a $1 million campaign to counteract media reports of a poor housing market, which they claim have been brainwashing potential buyers and hurting sales. Under the slogan “Get Home Atlanta!” the campaign will promote 10 reasons why now is a good time to buy, and offer prizes for visitors to its Web site such as a resort vacation and skybox seats at the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. Sales of single-family homes in the Atlanta area dropped to 40,739 in the first eight months of 2007 from 48,369 in the same period last year, according to RE/MAX.
A Boston-based developer is planning a large mixed-use development in DeKalb County, just down the road from another mega-project planned by the Florida-based Sembler Company. HRPT Properties Trust’s transformation of Executive Park, at the corner of I-85 and North Druid Hills Road, would include 772 high-end apartments, more than 1 million square feet of new office space and a massive retail component. Sembler’s nearby $1 billion project is already slated for high-rise condos, at least one hotel and 1.5 million square feet of retail, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Mortgages for black and Latino Boston residents have been denied at the highest rates since the early 1990s, when the city’s lending industry faced charges of racism for minority loan rejections. In 2006, 30.8 percent of blacks and 26.5 percent of Latinos were turned down, compared to the 13.1 percent of whites who were rejected, the Boston Globe reported. Fourteen years earlier in 1990, 34.9 percent of blacks, 21.1 percent of Latinos and 11 percent of whites were rejected.
After having sold most of its Boston-area properties, locally based Beacon Capital Partners made a splash in the market last month with a $390 million purchase of half of One Financial Center, the Boston Globe reported. The private REIT is buying the interest held by Rose Associates of New York, which developed the 46-story tower in 1984. The price per square foot for the 1.1 million-square-foot building, one of Boston’s two tallest towers, was more than $700. Cushman & Wakefield represented the ownership partners in the transaction.
Chicago-area office landlords are feeling the sting of the subprime mortgage crisis as vacancies rise and rents continue to diminish. This means owners are likely to have a tougher time paying off loans that, in some cases, have covered 95 percent or more of a building’s cost, the Chicago Tribune reported. At the midway point of 2007, the metropolitan area had an 18.5 percent vacancy rate and an overall average asking rent of $22.16 per square foot, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Meanwhile, 6 million square feet of new office developments are under way in downtown Chicago.
A Chicago philanthropist and former nurse at Children’s Memorial Hospital donated $100 million to help finance the hospital’s relocation to a new facility in the Streeterville neighborhood. The facility will open in 2012. Donor Ann Lurie hopes that the $850 million project will better accommodate the hospital’s core group of patients: children insured by the Medicaid program for the poor, of whom more than 200 are turned away annually from the existing facility, the Chicago Tribune reported.
A residential developer in Detroit is offering a free two-year lease of a car or no mortgage payments for six months in an effort to get his houses sold, the Detroit Free Press reported. The homes range in price from $229,000 to $324,900 and range in size from 1,800 to 3,250 square feet. In a national trend, developers are upping the ante to attract homebuyers in a slower market, with offers including coverage of closing costs and maintenance fees, free parking and high-end entertainment systems.
Residential sales volume in Las Vegas was flat in August compared to the previous month, with prices seeing modest gains. The 1.1 percent rise in August in inventory of homes for sale on the Multiple Listing Service was the smallest this year, according to the Greater Las Vegas Association of Realtors. Meanwhile, the median home price rose 1.7 percent from the previous month to $299,900, though it was still down 3.9 percent from August 2006. The number of single-family home sales recorded in August was 1,316, a 0.2 percent drop from July and a 37.2 percent decrease from the same month a year ago, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
In a deal billed as one of the most significant in the company’s history, MGM Mirage sold 50 percent of its CityCenter development and nearly 10 percent of its stock for $5.1 billion to Dubai World, the holding company for the emirate. Dubai World invested $2.4 billion to acquire more than 28 million shares of MGM Mirage stock and $2.7 billion in the 76-acre CityCenter project. If the project is completed on budget and on schedule by late 2009, MGM Mirage would receive a $100 million bonus from Dubai World, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported.
Construction is under way on a $130 million office tower in Burbank’s Media District, an area that has had one of the lowest office vacancy rates in Southern California in recent years, according to Cushman & Wakefield. The seven-story, 363,000-square-foot building, which is the last phase of a 103-acre mixed-use project known as Empire Center, is being erected at 2300 West Empire Avenue by Higgins Development Partners, the Los Angeles Times reported. The project is slated for completion in early 2009.
The University of Pennsylvania and locally based Brandywine Realty Trust plan to build a massive mixed-use project on 30th Street that could cost more than $750 million. The 14-acre Cira Centre South, designed by architects Pelli Clarke Pelli, will feature a 40- to 50-story office tower that will also house a 225-room hotel and 50 condo units. A planned 25- to 30-story residential tower would contain about 225 rental units and ground-level retail. The partners signed a 90-year ground lease for the development site, which will also include the conversion of an 862,000-square-foot U.S. Postal Service building into offices, the Philadelphia Inquirer reported.
A $350 million, 280,000-square-foot film production complex is being planned in Norristown, the second movie studio project to be announced recently in the Philadelphia region. The Logan Square Studios Complex will sit on 25 acres at Markley Street and Johnson Highway alongside a vacant 180,000-square-foot Sears building slated for conversion. The recent interest in filming in Pennsylvania comes on the heels of a state law passed in July that will offer tax credits of 25 percent for production costs incurred in the state, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.
Home prices are down in the Valley, and listings are at record highs, though recent months have seen one of the narrowest spreads between sales and asking prices since April 2005. The median sales price in August was about $250,000, while the median price of a home listed in July was almost $275,000, the Arizona Republic reported. Some feel this could signal a potential upswing in home sales, because the expectations of buyers and sellers are more aligned than they had been earlier in the year.
A team led by developer Hines and Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects offered $350 million for the rights to build what would be San Francisco’s new tallest building — an 80-story, 1.8 million-square-foot office tower at First and Mission streets alongside a new Transbay Terminal. The board of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority was expected to announce a winner late last month. The Hines-Pelli offer for the 1,200-foot tower eclipsed the bids of either of its rivals by more than $200 million, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Microsoft has leased nearly 170,000 square feet in three buildings in downtown Seattle, bringing its total expected presence in the neighborhood by next spring to 1,400 people. The company is also launching a free, private express bus service dubbed “the Connector” for those working at the expanding Redmond campus. Microsoft has 36,000 employees in the region but appears to be trying to recruit would-be workers who might also be considering positions at Google and Yahoo, both of which are increasing their presence in the area, the Seattle Times reported.
A Washington-area developer is teaming up with the largest minority-owned real estate investment firm in the country, based in San Francisco, to build or expand 42 projects throughout the D.C. area — a collaboration that is expected to produce a $10 billion portfolio of 93 mixed-use properties. The new venture between locally based JBG Cos. and MacFarlane Partners, to be called JBG Urban, will develop properties in the District, Maryland and northern Virginia, the Washington Post reported. The properties in the portfolio were all previously owned by various JBG entities.